Now You Are Five

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I’ve been trying to write this for a little while now and am shamefully completing it almost a month after the event of Elfie’s fifth birthday. But I feel like Elfie turning FIVE has been such a milestone for our family – not just for Elfie but for everyone in our little family of three and it’s been difficult to put into words exactly how I feel about this little poppet now she’s getting older.

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Sidenote: since when did I become grown-up enough to be the mother of a five year old?! Hasn’t happened yet, probably never will.

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I’m going to hark back to one of my favourite motherhood quotes here because its never resonates more than on the birthdays of my kids; the days are long but the years are short. And holy mackerel do these years go by swiftly, I can remember Elfie’s 4th birthday like it was yesterday but looking back at the pictures now she was so teeny tiny. What a dot!


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So here we are at five, which feels so much more grown-up than four and a million miles away from three. The year has been huge for Elfie as she started school last September, and with school comes all the associated fun stuff like the Christmas play, maypoleing, sports day, the annual camping trip… it’s been fantastic for us all. I chose to send her to a village school a 10 minute drive away rather than the huge primary school around the corner; there are only 10 children in her year (vs 60 at the local primary) and 26 in the whole school. This environment has been really brilliant for her, she has so much confidence with older children and just adores being around her friends.

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She’s a fantastic learner and truly enjoys reading and writing; we spent hours in the garden on a blanket yesterday as she painstakingly wrote out a story and I spelled the odd word to her. Elfie’s thirst for knowledge is beautiful to see and really reminds me of myself at her age, she loves books as much as I did and devours them like a hungry caterpillar ;)

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I’ve written a lot about how Elfie and I sometimes have a tricky relationship, what with us being carbon copies of each other and everything. We’re both laid back in some ways but highly strung in others, defiant, head strong and know what we want, so it’s safe to say we have clashed in the past. Dare I say that these clashes are getting fewer and far between; we’re learning to talk more to one another when we have issues rather than rant and strop (her, not me, honest ;) which has resulted in a much more harmonious relationship.

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We had chicken pox this year which was truly awful and Elfie seemed to suffer with it much worse than Hux. There’s a reason you can only catch it once and thank god – me keeping her off school for a week was a crime as far as she was concerned. It was nice to us to spend some time together just the two of us but I wish it would have been less itchy and more fun.

FYI: despite the pox there’s always time for Frozen Dresses.

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I love how close we are now. Cuddling is such a big part of our relationship and she’s always grabbing me round the neck when I tuck her in and saying “I just never want to let you go, mummy” or getting in to my bed in the morning and wishing she could cuddle forever. So do I, Elfie. So do I. We have these big chats and I feel like our family situation means that we have a very special relationship – she tells me stuff and I tell her stuff – we know each other inside out. Some point over the last couple of months marked the time that Elfie had spent more time living with me as a single parent than she did with her dad in the house as a family of four. Though her father is still very involved I really do feel like I represent not only a mum to her but also part of the strength that comes from a dad.

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Elfie has a stonker of a personality. She is so sweet, so kind, so thoughtful. It’s not an exaggeration to say she is loved by all – she is just such a little treasure. She has beautiful manners (*takes a bow*) and brings sunshine wherever she goes. She has her moments – like mother, like daughter, remember? – and likes to take herself off on occasion for a little strop. But I normally find her 20 minutes later lying on her bed casually reading a book or playing a game on the iPad, strop or quarrel completely forgotten.

10986395_434534216708961_1966216557_nElfreda, whatever did I do without your bright sunshiney smile in my life? You are a light in the dark, a laugh in the silence and on occasion a pain in my bum. But your mummy loves you to the moon and back. And then again. And again and again and again. I hope you know that.

Elfie’s 4th  birthday / Elfie’s 3rd birthday / Elfie at 2 / Elfie’s 1st birthday

#DearCarpetright… Win A New Floor

One thing I love about having kids is the situations they are constantly getting themselves into. Hux is always coming home with nursery with funny notes detailing what he did that day and exactly why he had to go into the record book for it and Elfie… she’s just Elfie. I’m always finding funny notes that she’s written around the house; one inside my laptop bag yesterday simply said ‘Bacon and Eggz’ over and over again.

This Mother’s Day Carpetright want to help you celebrate the funny things your kids (or your pets!) do. They want you to photograph the mischief the littlest members of your family get up to and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram, tagging Carpetright and including the hashtag #DearCarpetright.

The best entry will win a new floor for any room of their house worth £500 and three runners up are to receive a Mother’s Day Chocolate Extravagance Hamper.

To give you some inspiration here’s one I made earlier… when a toddler Elfie decided to colour in baby Hux’s face to look ‘like a lion’. She used permanent Sharpie *insert Thumbs Up emoji*. I miss those baby days…

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And another, when she was “putting my makeup on, mummy, GO AWAY!”

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Such treasures.

To enter all you have to do is take a picture of your pet, baby or child in question holding or sat next to a sign that states #DearCarpetright and then the reason why you (as a mother) or your partner/Mum deserves some new flooring. Upload this picture to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Instagram using #DearCarpetright and tag Carpetright in the caption. For more information please go here

 

Thanks to Carpetright for supporting MTT! Without you I would not have the funds to buy baby wipes to clean up my childrens’ messes :) 

Elfie: My #ARWOMAN

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You may have seen the #ARWOMAN campaign floating around a couple of blogs recently.

It is a movement created by Atterley Road, whose goal it is to get women openly celebrating other woman. As a pretty headstrong feminism loving woman myself (*fistbump*) I am more than happy to take part in celebrating the women in my life who are inspiring leaders, role models and all-round wonderful human beings.

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I’m lucky in that I have lots of strong woman in my life. From my best friend Kirsty who is the wiliest businesswoman I know to my Mum friends Bryony and Amy who all juggle multiple things to be wonderful mothers. My mum, who has gone from open heart surgery to marathon training to my old friend Su who is the most intelligent hardworking solicitor I have ever met and hugely kind to our planet, too. Then there are the multitudes of blog cohorts who inspire me every day – my soul sister Charlotte, viral blogger extraordinaire Alison, beautiful businesswoman Fritha and creative genius Aly. I am so grateful to have these wonderful women surrounding me – life wouldn’t be the same without them.

But when Atterley Road asked me to pick one woman in particular I knew who I wanted to write about.

My very own little Elfie.

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Now, she may not be a woman (yet – though she has the attitude of one) but she is one of the most inspiring people I know.

Elfie did not have an easy time of it when she was born. She was a very poorly baby and was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition at two and a half months old. Looking back it is heartbreaking how close I came to losing her; she was so tiny and so unwell with a disease that took a long time to diagnose.

I call her my special snowflake because that’s what she is. Though it’s impossible to say exactly how many, she is one of around 180 people in the world with her condition – making her a very fascinating specimen to her Consultants and Professors when we visit Great Ormond St.

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She’s always been a fighter. She fought to get well when she was so close to death and in such obvious pain as a baby. She fought to put all the weight back on that she’d lost while she was so ill. She fought with me last week because I gave her crayons instead of colouring pens ;)

Elfie is such a clever little thing and so much of her brains are her own doing. She will happily sit on a Sunday afternoon with her pens and paper, painstakingly spelling out her favourite words (and doing a marvellous job of it too!). Reading is one of her favourite things to do and she’ll spend hours reading to me, her brother, her toy animals… anyone who will listen to her. Her reading and writing skills are more than on-par with those in her year in school, despite her being a young July baby who spent months being ill and then catching up. I’m so proud of her intellect and the work she puts into it – long may that remain.

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Elfie reminds me so much of me. On the outside she is headstrong, independent, feisty and knows her own mind yet she still needs the occasional hug of reassurance, a cuddle and a talk with her mum. She tells me I am her best friend and that when she grows up she wants to be my helper at work :) I always think it’s good to lead by example so I love that she takes an interest in the work I do. Maybe one day she can join the family business of the Internet?

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Poor E gets put through a lot. Blood tests and daily medications, wearing a special medical ID, being that little bit different from her friends. But she takes this in her stride, not once complaining or asking ‘why?’. She knows she is special, I tell her every day, and that I am so proud of the person she is becoming. She inspires me daily with her resilience, with her spirit and with her loving heart. I’d want to be more like her but then I remember that I made her :) And for that I will forever be thankful. Elfie, you’re my very best friend too.

Which strong woman in your life inspires you?

 

The Day Elfie Became A Princess

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For reasons I really want to write about at a later date, I’ve become somewhat of a feminist in the last 12 months. It’s been an odd thing – I’ve gone from feeling slightly ambivalent about feminism to being confident that I strongly identify this way. Not to sound emotional about the whole thing but it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster – empowering, scary, shocking, maddening, exciting.

And as such I want to make sure my children, both Elfie and Hux, know they can do whatever they want to do in life, be whatever they want to be, no matter if they’re a boy or a girl. I try not to gender stereotype them, I’ve never dressed Elfie in pink and Hux in blue. Hux loves his tea set and Barbie and  Elfie likes to craft guns out of LEGO (I think she learned about guns from her friends, all boys, at school?) and goes gaga for Spiderman. Yet despite this Hux still spends an unhealthy amount of time banging his head against walls (such a boy) and Elfie has a total love affair with anything Disney Princess.

Which is how I knew she would go into paroxysms of delight when I took her to the Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Harrod’s . I really shouldn’t have told her about the expeirence so long in advance because for two weeks she spoke of nothing apart from the day she would be turned into a princess. All the teachers and lunchtime helpers at school knew, as did quite a few people in the supermarket as well as our next door neighbour. SHE WAS EXCITED!

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And so last Sunday we arrived at Harrod’s looking like this (above), not particularly princessy, I think you’ll agree? We made our way to the fourth floor to see how this transformation would take place.

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Now there is something I find totally magical about Disney. Disneyland Florida 1999 is still in my personal history books as the BEST HOLIDAY EVER and I literally get chills in our local Disney store. The stories, the characters, the music – it’s so wonderful, no matter how old you are.

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When we first arrived at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Elfie was given a buzzer that would go off when it was our time to be transformed. A quick five minutes later and it was our turn – we were off to meet Charlie, our very own Fairy Godmother-in-training! Charlie used her magic to summon up the main woman, the Fairy Godmother, who told Elfie all about what it meant to become a princess. We were taught the magic words, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! And we magicked the doors to the boutique open. IMG_9840

We’d selected the ‘Coronation’ package, which meant Elfie would be transformed into none other than Anna from Frozen. And upon being shown to her very own changing room – poof! – a few more magic words and Anna’s dress and a beautiful pair of glittery shoes appeared. It was magical!

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The Fairy Godmothers-in-Training set to work. Elfie chose a hairstyle, a nail colour and face paints and was lavished with so much attention. At one point she had four Fairy Godmothers-in-Training attending to her every need: brushing her hair (which I am SO NOT ALLOWED TO DO, fyi), singing to her, reading her stories, painting her nails, talking to her about her favourite princesses… it was wonderful.


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It was an absolutely priceless moment to see, she was so aware of being pampered and to see her feeling like the most important person in that room at that time – I felt so proud. She was beaming, absolutely lit up from the inside. She looked like a real princess, and I’m sure felt like one too, as ‘Princess Elfie’ had been her name ever since we’d entered the boutique. I’m not going to pretend I minded being referred to as ‘Queen’, either ;)

One of the best moments was when she got the first glimpse of herself as a princess. She couldn’t believe the way she looked. And then the seriousness with which Charlie crouched down and explained what was expected of a princess was lovely – that she was loyal, caring, kind and a friend to all. Pretty good life advice, really.

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We were led to the ‘window’, where Elfie had her picture taken overlooking her kingdom, and then on to the royal throne where Elfie swore to behave in a princessly manner. Wide eyed, she was given a bag of goodies (a big cuddly Olaf that she hasn’t let go of since, Anna and Elsa dolls, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique certificate, a framed photo of her as a princess and a little makeup bag) and we slowly wandered through the kids department and out of Harrod’s.

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She refused to wear a coat (it was 6pm and FREEZING) but totally basked in the adoration of all the tourists who kept stopping her and telling her how beautiful she looked. This lasted for a while – two tube train journeys to be exact – until we boarded our train home and she promptly fell asleep. It’s tough being a princess!

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The hair do stayed put for two days (luckily school was closed for training the next day) and the makeup lasted 24 hours. Basically she did NOT want to stop being a princess. She’s taking her princess crown and sparkly shoes into school for her ‘treasures assembly’ next week and hasn’t stop talking about the day since. It has obviously been a very special event for her.

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It’s not the most feminist thing I’ve ever done with her but I would absolutely do it again. As important as feminism is to me I believe it is also important for children to be made to feel special. And on this day I could see that she knew just how special and beautiful she is from the inside out.

I can’t finish this write-up without praising the Fairy Godmothers-in-training. Each and every one we met was so sweet, enthusiastic and captivating to the little girls in the boutique. They were so lovely to us both, even at the end of what must have been a very long day for them. Ten out of ten.

When I found out the price of the experience – £300 – I wasn’t sure I would be able to justify that amount of money on an hour. But for what Elfie got out of it? I think it is definitely worth it. I’m already planning on taking her again for her birthday and I for one CAN’T WAIT.

You can find out more about the experiences (they start at £100) and book online at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique website here. And for what it’s worth, if they did the equivalent adult’s experience I’d be first in line.

Huge thank-you’s for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for having us last weekend. We will definitely be back! 

Elfie Is 4! Again!

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I’d totally forgotten when I wrote about Elfie’s fourth birthday fails a couple of weeks ago that we’d get to do it all over again soon after: her birthday party!

In the whole process of organizing Elfie a 4th birthday party I did one thing incredibly right and one thing incredibly wrong. The right thing was that I agreed it was a great idea to split the birthday party with a friend who is way more capable and organized than I am; her little fella Ralph is 4 at the end of July, is one of Elfie’s BFF’s and was the Joseph to her Mary in the pre-school nativity. Hi, Amy!

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IMG_1966The thing I did wrong was choose to make the cake the morning of the party. WHY, Alice, WHY? I suppose it was too tall to fit into the fridge with all the party food but seriously… that stress was not good. Especially when layer 2 didn’t play ball and decided to jam as two pieces. I fixed it, I don’t think anybody noticed, but still. Stress levels: stratospheric.

Sidenote: if anyone needs to make a chocolate cake it was this one . I found the batter stretched to four of my tins but in general it was pretty straightforward to make. 

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It turned out that, despite us having minimal time together to plan (thank you new job and crazy schedule) the party turned out fabulously. Amy took care of decorations and the games, her mum provided the dance moves for the 4 year olds and I took care of the food, the cake and a kick-ass Spotify Playlist. Which I’m definitely not listening to right now. Honest.

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IMG_1989The village hall looked fabulous, the turnout was great, and we had a wonderful two hours doing everything you’re supposed to do. That is, get sweaty dancing to Katy Perry choons and play musical statues. Amy’s ‘Pin The Lips On The Alien’ was a total hit (I loved it) and I think we had 20 very satisfied (and hyperactive) customers come 3pm.

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As we’d said the kids could come in fancy dress Elfie wanted to be Princess Elsa (obvs – she looked beautiful) and Ralph was a dashing Spiderman.  Hux was ‘boy in jeans and tshirt who was just going to run around like a maniac and spill things anyway’. He carried it well.

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There was a Pimms station for the grownups, because what is a kid’s party without a little bit of booze? Calm down mumsnet, it was post-midday (but we still would have had one if it wasn’t… ;). Amy was given the fantastic Pimms vessel for her recent wedding and you can get it at John Lewis here for £20 or even cheaper if you check out these offers . It was genius.

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IMG_2019And the cake! The sparklers were amazing and the birthday boy and girl did a great job of blowing out the candles together. Party bags were handed out, the mums (and dads and aunties and grandparents) tidied up and sighed in relief that kids only have one birthday a year. I don’t know about Amy but I went home and took a good long nap. And ate a piece of that cake.

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Happy birthday (again) gorgeous girl! What a wonderful way to celebrate the end of your pre-school years with your very best friends. How about next year we just take a couple of them to the cinema?!

Sometimes Shit Days Happen (Alternative Title: Happy Birthday, Elfie!)

 

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In my infinite wisdom I decided that Monday was going to be a big day for Elfie.

It was her 4th birthday so it was already huge. So huge that she padded into my bedroom at 4.55am to say “is it now, mummy? Am I four?”.

(My answer: “you are not four til 7 o’clock. Go back to bed”. She didn’t)

I don’t know if it was the fact I was knackered or that I was just giddy at the thought of an exciting day off work with my kids but at about 8am I decided that Monday would be the day Elfie gave up her dummy.

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